Text only version:
At the beginning of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Will gets us up to date with what’s been happening in his life recently. After the incident with those pesky guys who were up to no good his mom insists he packs his bags and moves to the opposite side of the country to start a new life with his aunt and uncle. Great parenting. Will dutifully hops into a cab and heads off west. But how much would a taxi journey from West Philadelphia to Bel-Air LA actually cost? Let’s start with the distance: The whole trip is approximately 2800 miles (one way) with an ETA of 40 hours (traffic dependant) which means Mr. Taxi Driver isn’t going to be able to achieve that in one stint. We’ll need to account for at least two rest stops, working with the idea that the taxi will be on the move for around 13 – 14 hours at a time. Current Taxi & Limousine Commission rules state a driver can’t work for more than 12 hours without a break, but that was only proposed in May of this year so 25 years ago this would have been more relaxed allowing the extra couple of hours driving each day.
There’s a Motel 6 in Kansas City which is around a third of the way through the journey. Motel 6 was founded in 1961 in Texas so by 1990 we can safely assume the chain would have already spread to Missouri, and Mr. Driver and Mr. Prince would be able to rest overnight. Big Willy may want to stay in a more upscale hotel but for convenience it would make sense they just got their heads down in a motel as it would be easier to get back on the road again the next morning. By the time they arrive at their first stop they would have spent around 13 hours together on the road so they would be well acquainted but it’s doubtful they would want to share a room, meaning we’ll have to double the cost of each the rest stops.
The next stage of the drive would take them to Albuquerque in New Mexico. The Motel 6 here is slightly cheaper for some reason, which is unusual because apparently the cost of living in this area is 20% higher than in the previous area they stopped. By this point the pair have spent a long time together and may well want to share a room over night, but for the sake of this analysis we’ll go ahead and give them a room each. This is the last stop they’ll need to take as the third section of the drive is the shortest. After spending the night at this motel they can make it to their destination without having to stop again, reaching their Bel-Air before nightfall.
Three days on the road with three meals a day each would equal 18 meals in total but let’s say they both had breakfast before they set off and Geoffrey has prepped them a nice roast chicken with all the trimmings for when they arrive, meaning they’ll need 14 meals over the course of the journey. The F.P. of B.A. isn’t a poor man and he seems like he’d make an effort, wanting to experience the local cuisine so he’d treat the driver to a decent dinner each evening. As Kansas is one of the top producers of beef we’d expect them to grab a steak and a couple of bottles of suds on the first night. Q39 is currently the highest ranking restaurant in Kansas City (although it’s doubtful it was around in 1990) so we’ll use prices from their menu and adjust the total at the end.
In Albuquerque we’ll say they took a trip to Mas – Tapas y Vino which is currently third on TripAdvisor, but is more traditionally New Mexican cuisine (“a fusion of Spanish and Mediterranean, Mexican, Pueblo Native American, and Cowboy Chuckwagon influences.”). In order to make the most headway Mr & Mr Fresh Prince would most likely have lunch on the road, or just make quick stops at diners or maybe fast food restaurants (probably first on the Pennsylvania/Ohio border and secondly right in the centre of Arizona, perhaps in Flagstaff). The Motel 6s they stopped at don’t offer breakfast but there are nearby cafes and restaurants where they would be able to grab something before they head out for the day. We’ll give them a few bottles of water to take on the journey too.
The driver is a smoker but doesn’t smoke in the car out of politeness, choosing only to smoke after meals and at the motel. He doesn’t bill Will for the smokes anyway so that’s irrelevant.
The last thing we need to consider is the fact that we are using prices from 2016 so we will need to adjust everything in order to make it appropriate for 1990. Using a U.S. based inflation calculator we find the cumulative rate of inflation between 2016 and 1990 is -45.7% so we can work with that. We also have to bear in mind that the original quoted figure does include a tip (roughly 15%, which is at the higher end of the scale (if you don’t count New York where around 20% is expected) but Mr. F. Prince is a pleasant chap and his new family are pretty wealthy so I think we can presume he’d be happy leaving a reasonable tip) so that has been factored into the inflation-adjusted figure at the same percentage. Taking all of these costs into account and adjusting it for inflation we come to the final cost of the journey: $4308.71
- I’m aware in the full version of the song Will says he takes a flight, but that part is cut out of the TV version (thanks to Julie Nugent for bringing that to my attention).
- Thanks to Lewis Freeth for the tip about differing prices in 1991, I used www.usinflationcalculator.com for that.
- Knife and fork icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com.
- @RedfootWorks made this. Don’t steal it.